The Mariana Islands are a territory of the United States. Today is a typically beautiful day there. The weather is 85 degrees Fahrenheit and sunny with a cooling breeze blowing off of the crystal blue waves of the Pacific Ocean.
It’s not so different than where Dr. Tina Chen hoped that she would end up by now after making a monumental discovery three years earlier. She had found a way to communicate with the future and had big plans on exploiting the technology she had discovered. The only difference is that she imagined herself a free single woman, and abundantly wealthy.
Tina grew up in New York City. She is the well-educated only child of professional parents who had immigrated from Hong Kong. Her background in theoretical physics and computer science led her to the discovery of a cloud which is present in cyberspace where time does not exist.
Dr. Chen was able to access the timeless quantum cloud and asked questions of her future self to which she was then able to send the answers back in time by way of what she dubbed time-mail or t-mail. Queries such as “Who will win the Super Bowl?” or “Will the stock market move up or down tomorrow?” The brilliant doctor had found the proverbial golden egg laying goose.
Dr. Chen is a certified genius as are all of her fellow inmates here in the village of Songsong on Rota Island. They were each detained by the government for having stumbled upon DARPA technologies which the U.S. military considered a national security risk. Together they number 13 inmates in all. They come from varying backgrounds in different disciplines of science and engineering. Their ages ranged from 32 all the way to 88 years of age. Tina Chen is the 32-year-old.
The detention center at Songsong is a black site operated by the CIA. On paper, it does not exist. The inmates are all officially disappeared persons. Their families and friends have no clue of what became of them. They are well cared for and free in their movements about an isolated area of Songsong. It is just that they are not allowed to leave the village and are under 24-hour surveillance at all times. In fact, of the 13 detainees, three of them are actually government spies who don’t even know one another to be spies.
Many of her colleagues are very despondent about their fate, but not Dr. Chen. She spends her time learning to fish and tending to her garden. None of the “inmates” are allowed access to phones or the internet, but nearly anything else they ask for is provided to them usually within 72 hours. It is understood that they are not there to be punished, but rather to be controlled.
Dr. Chen was obsessed with keeping track of the calendar and news from the outside. Usually, a copy of the New York Times or the Washington Post was supplied to the unwilling residents of Songsong to keep them aware of what was going on in the outside world.
Tina always remains cheerful. Consoling the others and even discovering that among her intellectual equals she has a keen sense of humor which they all appreciate. What makes it possible for Dr. Chen to go on so carefree is that she knows something about the future which none of the others nor their captors know.
Three years previously, on a frosty February night in New Paltz, New York where she did her research and taught as a lecturer at SUNY, Tina received a response through the t-mail computer she had designed. The question she asked her future self-was “Where will I be in five years?” The answer she received was both puzzling and alarming.
You will be living in paradise in the Mariana Islands in a place called Songsong, but don’t despair because World War Three is about to start and your beloved New York City will soon exist only as a memory. However, you and those with you will be safe.
Hi, I'm Lester Patterson,